Aussie Cheer Channel had the chance to interview Margarita Jimenez the head coach of the the Monash Mystics Pom team, we talk to her about the Mystics recent trip to the Dance Worlds in Orlando Florida!
How did you get involved with Cheerleading?
I have dance in my blood as both my parents were dancers. I started ballet when I was 6 years old but found that I preferred a stronger style of dance. When my school started a cheerleading squad, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for! I was Team Captain from Year 8 onwards and then at University, I joined an All-Star Coed cheer squad. Unfortunately, I was not a strong tumbler and ended up quitting Cheer when I discovered Pom – the perfect mix of dance and cheer – and joined an All-Star dance academy.
How does Cheering in Colombia differ from Cheering in Australia?
I’ve found the main difference is the resources available in Australia to produce amazing athletes. Cheerleading was a sport in Colombia for a long time before Australia (due to our proximity with the USA) but I feel that both countries are now on a similar level due to the fast growth of Australian Cheer. Gyms in Australia tend to be fully equipped whilst in Colombia it’s challenging to find a proper space to train. In addition to this, the quality of the events here is mind-blowing. AASCF Nationals, for example, is wonderful and designed to provide the best experience for everyone. My country has some very good events but we still have opportunities for improvement there.
Have you competed at Worlds before?
Yes, I’ve competed with the Colombian elite dance team “The Golden Girls” at Dance Worlds four times (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012). They are currently ranked 8th in the World and their Doubles Freestyle Pom team won the Silver medal at ICU.
When did you join the Monash Mystics?
I joined the club in 2013 when I moved to Australia to study my Masters degree at Monash University.
How did the Pom team come about?
The team was created because dancers who had previously competed in the University Pom team but had since graduated could still compete with the club. Competing in the All-star division also provided new challenges for the girls and allowed them to further improve their Pom skills.
Where did you win the bid?
At 2014 AASCF Nationals, after placing first in Open Pom Heats and Second in finals.
Tell us your favourite part about Worlds
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there with my girls because I had just had my baby girl. However, I have got to say my favourite part of Worlds was when my Mystics girls met The Golden Girls (my former team in Colombia). They shared their Worlds experiences and cheered for each other during the competition, and that was very special for me.
Tell us about your training for Worlds
It was a very challenging but rewarding experience for both my athletes and I because we really wanted to showcase our strengths as team and make Australia proud. We had both choreography and technique sessions weekly and invited a dance conditioning coach (Lisa Ellis) to help us with our training. We focused on improving our performance on stage, connecting with the audience and empowering the team to manage their trainings and performance without a coach and also to have fun whilst having the best experience of their lives!
In your option what does it take to be Worlds ready?
I honestly think there is no such thing as being Worlds ready. You will always want to have more time to prepare, to be perfect. And when you get there, you will watch some amazing teams and think, ‘WOW! I really can still lift my game!’ Being ready for Worlds is more of an attitude, in my opinion. You should be prepared to not only show the world the absolute best you and your team can be but also be ready to watch and learn from the best.
What your favourite part of the routine?
Wow, it’s so hard to tell! I actually loved every part of it! But if I have to choose, I’ll say it’s close to the end when they danced to “Switch” (by Will Smith). In this section, the girls are in a close formation and have a bit of a party on stage. Watching them smiling and having fun whilst dancing is a proud moment for me as a coach.
What did you learn about yourself and your team at Worlds?
What I learnt about myself is that it is possible to have your heart in two countries at the same time. It was so hard to watch my team through a very slow, poor quality live stream late at night!
In regards to my team; they showed me how capable and amazing they are for being so ready to compete even without a coach there with them and also, how inspiring this experience was for them! They came back from Worlds ready to resume training and asking me to put together a routine that will challenge them to improve and achieve more difficult skills. That’s motivating for any coach!
Tell us some of the memorable moments from Worlds
At every Worlds I’ve been to, I think I will always remember watching so many inspiring teams from around the World. Watching teams like Pace Elite and Dancers Edge from the USA or any of the Japanese Pom teams makes you feel so humble about all you can continue to learn and so inspired to get your hands on new tricks and choreography for your teams.
It has always been the dream of many to compete at Worlds be it Dance or Cheer, what advice would you give to those wanting to compete there?
Firstly, to state your Worlds dream as a vision for the team and to make sure everyone shares this vision and is willing to commit to the journey. Worlds starts with every single training, every performance or competition you attend. Ask yourself constantly, ‘How is what I’m doing today contributing to my Worlds journey?’ If it is not aligned with your vision, then it is a waste of time.
Secondly, try your best to research and to gain as much industry knowledge as possible. Attend workshops, courses, clinics and research new tricks and trends of Cheer or Dance routines. This means you will have plenty of ideas to develop a killer routine. In addition, make sure you have something unique in your routine that will make you stand out, a ‘wow’ moment that everyone will remember!
And lastly, something I took from a dance workshop last year, stay positive – everything is easier with a smile! And never, ever give up!
The ACC Team would like to thank Margarita for taking the time to chat with us, we wish the Monash Mystics all the best this season!